FSU Students Serve in City Fire Department
Students help protect campus, surrounding community
According to an Indiana University study, the average college student carries about 12 pounds when lugging a book bag around campus. A firefighter carries 45 pounds just with basic Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). Add more equipment necessary to take on different tasks and the extra weight a firefighter carries can surpass 70 pounds.
The Frostburg Fire Department (FFD) has been around since 1878 and has been open to students since the early 1990s, all the while maintaining a 100% volunteer staff. Currently the FFD has 47 active members, 11 of which are students.
“We have no paid drivers or staff or anything like that so every call we run, everybody is donating their time. People always come up to me saying that I work up here or whatever but it’s strictly volunteer so for everybody that comes out, it’s from their personal time,” remarked Brian Long, FSU senior majoring in Exercise & Sports Science.
As if they were real-life superheroes, these FFD student volunteers hit the books for classes and then protect the community and those at the university in their spare time. These 11 students are either sophomores or seniors and they range from the ages of 18 to 23.
Being a part of the FFD is a good opportunity to meet new people from both the university and the community. While no current student volunteers are local, the majority is from Maryland, although one student is from Pennsylvania and another is all the way from California.
“You don’t just meet new people from the university though, it’s the whole community, and because we have to cooperate with our departments around us, we meet people of all different kinds everywhere. It’s really a good feeling to be able to walk around the community and see people that you know from other departments,” commented Bre Lyons, FSU senior studying Psychology.
Even though a lot of time is put into being a volunteer firefighter, students still have time to do their work and to even participate in outside activities. Three of the 11 students are in on-campus fraternities: two are a part of Phi Mu Delta, and the other is a part of Pi Lambda Phi.
“It can be stressful, being in school and volunteering, but the way I see it is almost as if it’s like a fraternity. Pretty much, there are obligations that you have to do. There are meetings you have to attend, but as long as you balance your schedule and maintain your time, it’s not bad,” said Lyons.
“We’re like a family. Or a dysfunctional one,” remarked Lohff. “More like a brotherhood, which also includes our sisters,” claimed Long.
The FFD offers benefits for those wishing to stay in the firefighting line of work and also for those that don’t. Volunteer firefighters can acquire any certification ranging from the basic Firefighter One all the way to technical rope rescues.
Brett Weikort, Frostburg State University sophomore studying Wild Life and Fisheries, commented: “For me, I want to be a paid firefighter after college and so getting this valuable experience is huge for me.”
Sam Lohff, FSU senior studying Geography, stated: “For me, I don’t want to be a paid firefighter after college but volunteering gives you a lot of leadership experiences that you can use in high-stress situations. You know, for a lot of different things that come at you.”
Being part of the FFD has also helped students in the classroom.
Lyons remarked, “As far as classes, some of the scenarios that we’ve had to deal with on different kinds of calls…you can apply them in in-class situations, at least for my major. It’s been a big help.”
These students who volunteer as firefighters are a good representation of the positive relationship the university has with the community, and arguably they strengthen that relationship.
“We’re here to get an education first and foremost, but we’re also volunteering our personal time to protect the students, protect the faculty, and [protect] the community. We are here more than to just go to school and things outside of that,” said Long.
“Having students volunteer in the fire department also shows that students aren’t just a bunch of ratty kids that are trying to cause problems. There are also a lot of students, like us volunteer firefighters, that are trying to help,” added Lohff.
The FFD has reached out to the university, welcoming students to volunteer and learn new skills. The FFD has an arrangement called the “Live-In program” which is the arrangement of students living in a house located next to the fire station on Water Street. There are currently five of the student firefighters residing in the home. The students get rent at a reduced rate and in return they carry out certain lateral duties.
“It’s basically for manpower. Since we live right next door, when we get a call, we’re automatically here and we don’t have the long response times,” commented Brian Long, one of the five students currently part of the program.
The FFD is also planning to add a portion to the lounge at the station on Water Street, where computers and printers will be set up so that students can come in and have the opportunity to work on homework.
“There’s a lot of students that live on campus, they have roommates and roommates’ friends that come up and it’s hard to focus and whatever so it’s a good place that we’re trying to incorporate in here,” commented Long.
The FFD holds events and fundraisers around the community. On Sept. 11 of this year, the FFD participated in the 15th anniversary of 9/11 event at FSU in which the department displayed the U.S. flag on their ladder truck from the raised aerial. All of the volunteers were wearing Class “A” Uniforms.
The FFD is also looking to hold an open house, most likely next semester, where everybody, students and community members, are welcome to come to its facility to gain a better knowledge of what the firefighters do. If anyone is interested in joining the department, the FFD is always looking for new volunteers. You can visit their site at http://frostburgfd.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Current Student Firefighter Roster:
Major: Wildlife & Fisheries
Hometown: Temple Hills, MD
Duration at FFD: 1 Year
Major: Wildlife & Fisheries
Hometown: Baltimore County, MD
Duration at FFD: Not Listed
|Name||Year||Major||Hometown||Duration at FFD|
|Albert Taylor||Senior||Political Science & Criminal Justice||Temple Hills, MD||1 Year|
|Brian Long||Senior||Exercise & Sports Science||Carroll County, MD||3 Years|
|Gabrielle (Bre) Lyons||Senior||Psychology||Eastern Shore, MD||3 Years|
|Landos Wallace, Jr.||Senior||Criminal Justice||Prince Georges County, MD||1 Year|
|Mack Schwarz||Senior||Wildlife & Fisheries||Baltimore County, MD||Not Listed|
|Michael (Mike) Moretti||Senior||Electrical Engineering||Frederick, MD||6 Months|
|Samuel (Sam) Lohff||Senior||Geography||Annapolis, MD||9 Months|
|Brett Weikort||Sophomore||Wildlife & Fisheries||Gettysburg, PA||8 Months|
|Lydia Dickmyer||Sophomore||Health Sciences||Carroll County, MD||2 Years|
|Roger Willcox||Sophomore||Criminal Justice||Los Angles, CA||9 Months|
|Victoria Snyder||Sophomore||Criminal Justice||Baltimore County, MD||4 Months|